By P. Oppili, Bosco Dominique
CHENNAI/PUDUCHERRY: Broken wings and bones welcome visitors to Kaliveli Lake, near Koonimedu in Villupuram district, an important feeding and breeding site for various bird species.
Around 15km north of Puducherry on East Coast Road, Kaliveli, attracts local and migratory bird species. Naturalists say they now come across large quantities of feathers and broken bones at the site, lending credence to their suspicion that hunters are illegally shooting down birds on a large scale in the wetland, which consists of a coastal lake and lagoon.
Birder M Prasanna, who visited Kaliveli on Saturday with his father, says they had heard that the wetland had a large number of species. "We went there and were shocked to see wings and bones of dead birds on a dirt track that leads to the lake," he said. "We saw the remains of more than 100 birds, but the actual numbers of poached birds are likely to be much higher. There also cannot be any reason other than hunting for such violent, mass deaths.It appears that poachers are indiscriminately hunting birds of all species," Prasanna said.
Naturalists say poachers have been having free run in Kaliveli for several years. "Eight years ago we busted a gang of poachers and alerted forest officials. They arrested the gang members and seized country-made weapons from them," an environmentalist said.
Members of the gypsy narikaruva community use guns to kill birds, he said, but this year as the waterbody dried up early and they have access to the trees. "They are using sticks to topple the nests and catch hatchlings. They also take young birds ready to leave the nest," he said.
They gypsies don't only hunt birds but also trap black-naped hares from surrounding forests. They attach torches to their foreheads after dusk and, prowling through the wetland, use clubs to hit and stun the hares. When the animals swoon, they pick them up and toss them into jute sacks.
"We have informed foresters about the poaching several times but they have not made any effort to put an end to it," the environmentalist said.
Forest range officer, Tindivanam, R M Perumal said the department inspected Kaliveli on Monday and found no sign of poaching. "We did not spot any hunters in the area," he said.